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To Bremain or to Brexit - An Irish Perspective

COMMENT PRINT ARTICLE
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PHOTO: Erakogu

It is not simply a question that the British people are being requested to vote on, but, rather a collection of ideals. A European ideal that is based upon the pillars of inclusive democracy, human rights and a social compact. However, what they are voting upon is based upon a different perception and understanding of such.

A democracy where there is no acceptance of national identity cards, human rights which afford a greater protection to the individual and a social compact which is created around a core of health care and protected opportunity. As evidenced in greater social allowances for those who are in most need when compared to many other parts of Europe, yet designed with British people in mind.

A freedom from a collective European oversight is what is sought by the British people. Is this possible? It is a question that has been posed since the post WW2 era within Britain. Is it compatible with a wider European move towards an agreed federalist style of collective management?

Such considerations lead us along a path which diverges at a certain point. Do we dilute the under pressure federalist model in order to embrace a reticent Britain or do we move closer and enable the possibility of others to depart from such, including Britain?

When British people assisted with the protection of Europe from danger was there a question of dedication to a collective European adherence to basic values? One could venture an answer of, no that was not the case.

As it could be the case currently that a British departure from the EU may not weaken it, but, rather strengthen it. In that they chose a similar shared belief pathway and yet express it a different way. A great friend which expresses themselves in a soi-disant way.

In terms of Ireland consensus reigns supreme across the Irish political landscape with regard to the need for Britain to remain within the European family. Primarily the drivers for this are based upon national self-interest with little reference to the wider European ideals.

Such drivers would include trade, the Irish peace process and the cultural affinity with Britain. Essentially it makes life easier to manage in terms of a vastly improved relationship with Britain following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

We are now happily contented with our relationship that now exists with our larger neighbour. A departure from the European Union by Britain would destabilise this or at least lead to a need for a realignment and recalibration of this.

However, if such a scenario emerged then perhaps opportunity would present itself. As the only remaining English language speaking country within the EU maybe new commercial and trade prospects could emerge. The move towards Irish unity may accelerate. As currently a small island shares two currencies and then one part would have membership of the EU and the other not.

Scottish independence would then appear on the horizon as a near certainty. This could act as an aid to Irish improvements in terms of how we manage ourselves. A friendly competitive neighbour with a similar population base who shares both the native language, Irish, and English as a language. This could create a dynamic local environment for Ireland within the larger European family.

A new threshold has been reached. A questioning of British identity and not necessarily a true reflection upon the European project. A negative sentiment is not a reflection of the whole. From an Irish perspective it is very difficult to speculate even in terms of the economic spheres. In trading terms alone a continued British membership is not as important as it may appear to be when analysed via the prism of the WTO and the EEA.

Great challenges currently face the EU. A positive or negative decision will clear the table in terms of an active agenda. A British decision to stay will allow for it to be parked for a generation and a decision to leave will be placed into a partial abeyance for a period of time.

Ultimately a British decision to depart from the EU will cause great consternation within Ireland. In particular amongst the political and social elites. As mentioned consensus does indeed dominate the Irish view that Britain should vote ‘yes’ and stay within the EU. Such views even extend to active encouragement of the Irish diaspora who reside within Britain to vote ‘yes’.

At times change is healthy. Thus, from an Irish perspective while a departure may cause unsettlement there are opportunities which could accrue. However, as a federalist this author must comment that when faced with the choice of what is healthier for a Europe based upon core shared values. Then it is better for the British to Bremain.

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